Rotarian African cheque boost

THE Rotary Club of Linlithgow and Bo’ness has handed over donations totalling £2400 to two charities which carry out vital work in Africa.

President Reverend Scott Marshall handed over a cheque for £1400 to Sue Hope, representing Ann Gloag from the Freedom from Fistula Foundation. It funded a new fistula unit at Bwaila District Hospital which has a major theatre and 28 bed inpatient unit.

He also handed over a cheque for £1000 to John Helliwell of Mary’s Meals, which is a registered charity that sets up school feeding projects where hunger and poverty prevent children from gaining an education. It began with feeding 200 children in Malawi and is now feeding over 650,000 children daily.

The speakers for the evening were Sue Hope of the Hope Consultancy and John Helliwell who spoke about the charities they were representing.

There are an estimated two million sufferers from obstetric fistula, caused by obstructed childbirth, in Africa and Sue provided information on the Freedom from Fistula Foundation set up by Ann Gloag in 2008. The illness can result in women becoming outcasts from their families.

Ann Gloag set the challenge for Rotary to find funding to train 200 midwives over two years which equates to training for one midwife per club. Linlithgow and Bo’ness rose to the challenge through their international committee.

John Halliwell had made a presentation to the club in October last year and his story of Mary’s Meals gained the support of the members who agreed to the £1000 donation to the project. John is the grandfather of nine-year-old Martha Payne who became famous by writing a blog about her school lunches in Lochgilphead, prompting the local authority to ban Martha from taking photographs in the dining hall.

The story appeared on national and international television, provoking such a furore that the council reversed its decision. Through her fundraising page, Martha has raised £100,000 for Mary’s Meals and her proud grandad has been pleased to follow in her footsteps to raise money for the charity.